DESIGNING AND MANAGING SERVICES
Few brands attain such a high standard of customer service as the luxury hotel, The Ritz-Carlton. The RitzCarlton dates back to the early 20th century and the original Ritz-Carlton Boston, which revolutionized the way U.S. travelers viewed and experienced customer service and luxury in a hotel. The Ritz-Carlton Boston was the first of its kind to provide guests with a private bath in each guest room, fresh flowers throughout the hotel, and an entire staff dressed in formal white tie, black tie, or morning coat attire. In 1983, hotelier Horst Schulze and a four-person development team acquired the rights to the Ritz-Carlton name and created the Ritz-Carlton concept as it is known today: a company-wide concentration on both the personal and the functional side of service. The five-star hotel provides impeccable facilities but also takes customer service extremely seriously. Its credo is, “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.” According to the company’s Web site, The Ritz-Carlton “pledge(s) to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambience.” The Ritz-Carlton fulfills this promise by providing impeccable training for its employees and executing its Three Steps of Service and 12 Service Values. The Three Steps of Service state that employees must use a warm and sincere greeting always using the guest’s name, anticipate and fulfill each guest’s needs, and give a warm good-bye again using the guest’s name. Every manager carries a laminated card with the 12 Service Values, which include bullets such as number 3: “I am empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests,” and number 10: “I am proud of my professional appearance, language and behavior.” Simon Cooper, the company
president and chief operating officer, explained, “It’s all about people. Nobody has an emotional experience with a thing. We’re appealing to emotions.” The Ritz-Carlton’s 38,000 employees at 70 hotels in 24 countries go out of their way to create unique and memorable experiences for their guests. While The Ritz-Carlton is known for training its employees on exceptional customer service, the hotel also reinforces its mission and values to its employees on a daily basis. Each day, managers gather their employees for a 15-minute “line up.” During this time, managers touch base with their employees, resolve any impending problems, and spend the remaining time reading and discussing what The Ritz-Carlton calls “wow stories.” The same “wow story” of the day is read to every single employee around the world. These true stories recognize an individual employee for his or her outstanding customer service and also highlight one of the 12 Service Values. For example, one family staying at the Ritz-Carlton, Bali, needed a particular type of egg and milk for their son who suffered from food allergies. Employees could not find the appropriate items in town, but the executive chef at the hotel remembered a store in Singapore that sold them. He contacted his mother-in-law, who purchased the items and personally flew them over 1,000 miles to Bali for the family. This example showcased Service Value 6: “I own and immediately resolve guests’ problems.” In another instance, a waiter overheard a man telling his wife, who used a wheelchair, that it was too bad he couldn’t get her down to the beach. The waiter told the maintenance crew, and by the next day they had constructed a wooden walkway down to the beach and pitched a tent at the far end where the couple had dinner. According to Cooper, the daily wow story is “the best way to communicate what we expect from our ladies and gentlemen around the world. Every story reinforces the actions we are looking for and demonstrates how each and every person in our organization contributes to our service...
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